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School system restructuring deserves state financial help

Published: Sun, March 17, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

For the second time in two years, the troubled Youngstown City School District is undergoing a major transformation in an effort to not only stop the exodus of students, but to bring back those who have gone to other districts. The changes are also designed to address a projected $48 million operating budget deficit.

As in March 2011, when he unveiled a realignment of the middle schools and the restructuring of Chaney and East high schools, last week’s announcement by Superintendent Connie Hathorn was met with wide support in the community and a firm endorsement from the board of education.

The general feeling among those who are directly and indirectly involved in the urban school district is that the status quo is unsustainable and uneconomical. It is unfortunate that over the years, those in charge kept doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. It was the definition of education insanity.

Hathorn, who became superintendent in January 2011, made it clear from the outset that success would only come with major changes in the way learning takes place in the classrooms.

The re-engineering of Chaney and East, while still a work in progress, is showing positive results. Chaney, which is now a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math school and a center for Visual and Performing Arts encompasses grades six through 12. Admission is through an application process. East High School caters to students interested in business and the legal profession.

Both schools offer college prep courses.

Hathorn believes that giving students choices ensures a higher rate of academic success and makes the district attractive to students elsewhere. Choice is also the foundation of the new revitalization plan, which is meant to address the high number of empty seats in the schools, reduce the number of schools in academic emergency and academic watch and reduce costs.

School closings

Details of the plan were published by The Vindicator last week. At its core, it involves closing P. Ross Berry and Volney Rogers middle schools and the University Project Learning Center, an alternative school for second- through 12th-graders on the East Side.

When fully implemented, the plan, which was approved by the state academic distress commission and the school board, would save more than $5 million annually.

But, the Youngstown school district is deserving of financial help from the state — given that the Gov. John Kasich has long urged a reorganization of the system to ensure student success.

The federal government announced last week that it has approved $20 million-plus for Ohio to help failing public school systems.

There is none more deserving than Youngs-town, which is why the governor should let it be known that the troubled school district will be first on the list of recipients.


1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

$48 million wasted tax dollars that has produced a school system in academic emergency. And now the Vindy wants the state to bail out this failed system with more tax dollars despite its own recognition of empty classroom seats. What is the Vindy's rationale to "bailout" many of the same system faculty and staff that helped to blow millions in the past? What are the guarantees that additional state monies will be spent more effectively or produce better academic performance?

The article fails to suggest where these state dollars should be spent but continues to support a simplistic approach by throwing money at a systemic problem that will only turn around when the learning culture between students, faculty, staff and parents becomes more engaged and collaborative, rather than antagonistic and lethargic.

Restructuring the school system is a good start to better use public school tax dollars. How about restructuring teacher compensation by rewarding effective reading, math, and science learning outcomes rather than maintaining the same union-supported compensation system that rewards teachers based upon tenure, regardless of teaching effectiveness? How about taking those $5 million annual savings and plowing them into a merit system rewarding effective learning outcomes produced by competent teachers? Of course, union leaders would never permit a competitive merit system to replace or supplement any portion of their socialistic, capped salary structure that protects the unproductive.

The problem in fixing the Youngstown public schools will not be solved with more money, but rather using current revenues more efficiently. Let the Youngstown public school system prove that it can balance a budget and climb out of academic emergency before advocating additional taxpayer dollars to prop up a failed product.

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2Silence_Dogood(1342 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

"The problem in fixing the Youngstown public schools will not be solved with more money, but rather using current revenues more efficiently."

I would have to disagree with your statement. In my opinion it is neither money or school policy that is causing this problem, but apathetic parents/parent that are not forcing their children to learn.

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3Knightcap(699 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

Hold back some of the welfare money or food stamps from the parents until the child starts to learn. If a student drops below a 2.0 average then the student does not get a free breakfast or lunch. The government has to stop giving handouts to people who do nothing in return.

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